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Movie maker and former top TV man new censor

INDEPENDENT film-maker John Kelleher has been appointed as the country's new film censor on the retirement of Sheamus Smith.

Mr Kelleher (58), a former controller of programmes for RTE television, was offered the job following an open interview selection process and will take up the post from April 7.

The former member of the Irish Film Board left the national broadcaster - where he launched the 'Today Tonight' programme - in 1983 to become managing director of the 'Sunday Tribune'.

He is currently managing director of independent film and television production company Fastnet Films, which is responsible for TV3's 'Agenda' programme, is a member of Film Makers Ireland, the Irish Film and Television Academy and the Royal Television Society.

Justice Minister Michael McDowell said he was "confident that Mr Kelleher's wide experience and high standing within the creative film industry will enable him to discharge with imagination and professionalism the functions of the censor in 21st century Ireland".

Mr Smith, in the post for 16 years, will remain censor until Mr Kelleher takes up his post. Mr McDowell paid tribute to Mr Smith and said he had carried out his functions with distinction and dedication.

Mr Kelleher is a producer of five feature films and is probably best known for the 1987 film 'Eat the Peach', which he also co-wrote and which starred Eamon Morrissey, Niall Toibin and Joe Lynch. He was also executive producer of the 1995 film 'An Awfully Big Adventure', starring Hugh Grant and Alan Rickman.

He has produced six television drama series, including the RTE drama 'Strumpet City' which starred Peter O'Toole and Peter Ustinov. And he was producer of 'Newsbeat', 'Hall's Pictorial Weekly', '7 Days', and the 'Politics Programme'.

Mr Kelleher is also responsible for the first international co-production of a film featuring the Irish language. 'Le Dernier Mot' (The Last Word), filmed half in French and half in Irish, was screened on TG4 and French television in 1999 and won the best International Feature at this year's New York Independent Film and Video Festival.

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